- - Sunday, August 21, 2011

ECONOMISTS

Poll shows preference for spending cuts over taxes

NEW YORK — The majority of economists surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics think that the federal deficit should be reduced only or primarily through spending cuts.

The survey, out Monday, found that 56 percent of the NABE members surveyed felt that way, while 37 percent said they favor equal parts spending cuts and tax increases. The remaining 7 percent think it should be done only or mostly through tax increases.

As for how to reduce the deficit, nearly 40 percent said the best way would be to contain Medicare and Medicaid costs. Nearly a quarter recommended simplifying the tax system. About 15 percent said the government should enact tough spending caps and cut discretionary spending.

The survey was conducted in the two weeks ending Aug. 2, the day that the Senate passed and President Obama signed legislation to raise the nation’s debt ceiling.

AUTO RENTALS

Dollar Thrifty asks rivals for final acquisition offers

TULSA, Okla.Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group said Sunday that it sent a letter to fellow rental car companies Hertz Global Holdings and Avis Budget Group asking them for their best and final offers to acquire the company in hopes of ending a drawn-out bidding war.

Scott L. Thompson, Dollar Thrifty’s president and chief executive, said that while Hertz and Avis have made progress with regulatory reviews, his company’s board has decided that it’s time to determine under what terms a deal can be made.

“Continuing uncertainty is in no one’s best interest, and both Hertz and Avis have the information they need to put forward their best and final offers,” Mr. Thompson said in a statement released by the company.

Earlier this month, Hertz extended until Sept. 9 its buyout bid for Tulsa-based Dollar Thrifty, which has advised its shareholders against accepting the offer. It includes $57.60 in cash and 0.8546 shares of Hertz stock for each Dollar Thrifty share. Avis, whose overture included $45.79 per share in cash and 0.6543 shares of Avis, has been stuck waiting for antitrust approval.

NEW YORK

Warner Music chairman, CEO to switch jobs

NEW YORK — Warner Music Group Corp.’s chief executive and its chairman will switch jobs.

Edgar Bronfman Jr., who had been serving as chief executive, was named chairman and will focus on the company’s strategy and growth opportunities. Stephen Cooper, the current chairman, was elected as chief executive and will be responsible for Warner Music’s day-to-day operations, the company said.

Warner Music, home to artists such as Eric Clapton, Jason Mraz and Cee Lo Green, announced the changes Friday.

Mr. Cooper will continue to serve on the company’s board, Warner Music said.

Mr. Cooper also serves as a member of the supervisory board for chemical maker LyondellBasell Industries N.V. He also is an adviser at Zolfo Cooper, a financial advisory and interim management firm that he co-founded, and managing partner of the private-equity firm Cooper Investment Partners.

In addition, Thomas Lee, who served on Warner Music’s board from March 2004 until last month, was elected as a director of the company. Mr. Lee is chairman and chief executive of Thomas H. Lee Capital LLC. His appointment increases the size of Warner Music’s board to 10 members.

ILLINOIS

United Airlines spends $500M to improve seats

CHICAGO — United Airlines plans to invest more than $500 million to improve seating on its planes and to create the same look and feel across its fleet. United and Continental merged last year, and this is just one part of the two companies’ integration.

The airline will be adding flat-bed seats to first- and business-class cabins on long-haul aircraft, increasing overhead bin space on some jets and adding Wi-Fi to other planes.

Former Continental planes will get Economy Plus seating - a coach section with more legroom - and Channel 9, which allows passengers to listen to air traffic control conversations with pilots.

The airline says 38 planes will have undergone the change by the end of the year and nearly 100 more will be completed by the end of March. Economy Plus seating will be added this fall to 29 Bombardier Q400 regional aircraft operated under the United Express banner. The turboprops fly principally out of Houston, Chicago, Newark, N.J., and Washington, D.C.

Beginning in March, the airline will nearly double the size of the overhead bins on all 152 of the Airbus A319 and A320 aircraft flown by the old United. This will allow for 40 extra bags on the planes.

In September, United will begin installing flat-bed seats and on-demand audio and video in the premium cabins of 12 Continental 767-400s and 14 United 767-300s.

As previously announced, the airline has contracted with in-flight entertainment provider LiveTV to install Wi-Fi using Ka-band satellite technology on more than 200 Boeing 737 and 757 aircraft equipped with DirecTV. LiveTV is a subsidiary of JetBlue Airways Corp.

From wire dispatches and staff reports